TARGET OPENING EARLY
As a tot, Allison Lopez fondly remembers trips up Highway 101 to see her grandparents, many times visiting the beach near Miramar, or making countless stops to see the crooked-neck giraffe at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
On Wednesday morning at 7 a.m., Ms. Lopez will be ushering in Santa Barbara’s newest attraction – Target at 3891 State St.
“This is huge,” said Ms. Lopez, the store’s director. “(The store) is clean, beautiful and ready to help guests out in any way we can.”
After well more than a decade of waiting, Target has chosen to do a “soft opening” Wednesday, with its official grand opening Sunday, allowing the opening-week kinks to be ironed out while still serving anxious guests.
The picturesque building on the corner of State Street and La Cumbre Road is considered by Target to be “small format,” focusing on specific needs of the community with targeted offerings that make sense for the location. While the footprint is smaller than those familiar with Super Targets, the store still features many of its staples, including clothing, alcohol, household goods and food.
“Every specific sku in our stores is meant for the guests in the Santa Barbara community,” Ms. Lopez explained.
And it’s a community that Ms. Lopez knows well, having grown up in nearby Thousand Oaks and traveling to Santa Barbara at least once or twice per month to visit her grandparents, who have been local residents for more than 65 years.
“They’ve never been to a Target in their lives,” Ms. Lopez said.
Ms. Lopez looks to be a natural in her new role, having spent four years running track and cross country at UCLA and developing an affinity for coaching.
She graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in classical civilizations – but knew immediately sitting behind a desk would never work for her.
Looking for a place where she could find a work-life balance, Ms. Lopez joined Target and nearly six years later, hasn’t looked back.
Having spent the past couple of years at the Target in Paso Robles, she points to the family atmosphere that has not only triggered her personal growth, it has also improved her coaching.
“I played sports all my life. I love to coach and work with my team, and develop,” Ms. Lopez said.
“Target is truly all about that. They really care about you. It’s more like a family than a job. They really do want you to be happy inside and outside of work.
“When I see someone get promoted, that’s where I personally get the most rewarded.”
Ms. Lopez’s team at this Target nearly grows by the day, adding new employees in just the past few days.
The interest in working at the store has exceeded expectations, with a hiring event in early February initially slated for 90 interviews, but growing to more than 250 due to walk-ins.
“It was overwhelming. We were super excited about that turn out,” Ms. Lopez said.
Currently the store has 70 team members with an additional 10 in leadership roles – and Ms. Lopez anticipates adding more in the near future.
Those employees will come in handy as the store deals with some anticipated logistical obstacles, mainly the 91 available parking spots and a handful of long- and short-term bike parking spots.
With traffic through the store expected to soar in the coming weeks – with multiple passersby peering through the window Monday – even employees will not be parked in this lot, leaving all spaces to guests.
While some local partners have already been solidified – including 805 beer – the store will utilize the first 90 days to gather feedback from guests on what other local vendors and partnerships should be sought out to assure that Target is the “one-stop shop” that it is known for.
Didn’t find what you want? Ms. Lopez says that the store will have devices throughout the store where you can simply order it and either have it shipped to the store or your home.
“We want to make sure shopping is the easiest experience,” Ms. Lopez said.